NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Rangers (Jan. 19)
Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs)
Maple Leafs vs. Rangers Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-160|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs will head to MSG for an excellent Wednesday night matchup with the Rangers. New York is looking to build on its dominant 10-3-2 record at home so far this season.
With the Rangers in strong form at home, it’s certainly a comment toward the nature of Toronto’s dominant play to be priced as considerable road favorites here.
But is that price warranted?
Can the Leafs Get More From Second Defensive Pairing?
It was another solid showing from the Leafs in Saturday’s 6-5 win in St. Louis. That victory moved their record to 7-2-1 over their last 10, and they’ve had a very strong 57.11 xGF% over that span, a number consistent with their season long mark.
The Maple Leafs are fighting to avoid a first-round matchup with the likes of Tampa or Florida.
Having broken through with a massive game-tying power play goal on Saturday in St. Louis, Matthews will enter this one with the opportunity to extend his streak of road games with a goal to 11 in a row.
But beyond that, Matthews continues to excel at the defensive end of the ice, and is amongst the very best two-way centers in the entire league. With Mitch Marner back in the lineup and Michael Bunting proving a nice compliment, Toronto is offering one of the more formidable units league-wide going forward.
That is scary because behind that unit sits a second line holding both William Nylander and John Tavares, who are producing at point per game paces so far this season.
With the club receiving strong play from Ilya Mikheyev, David Kampf and other low-priced secondary options, the Maple Leafs do appear to have managed to insulate the high-priced big names effectively. But obviously no one is really going to care about anything this team does in the regular season.
The biggest concern so far this season has been the play of the Leafs’ second defensive pairing of Justin Holl and Jake Muzzin. There is no doubt GM Kyle Dubas will be considering all upgrade options with the Leafs’ lofty expectations.
However, with both currently on the IR, we should see more time for the pairing of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. They have been stellar together this season, with a 69.6 xGF% throughout 147.8 minutes at even strength. That is good for the league’s second-best mark for any pairing above 130 minutes.
Jack Campbell has been very strong in goal again for the Leafs this season, with a +15.2 goals saved above expected rating and a .931 save % throughout 28 games played.
Rangers Finding Ways to Cover Weaknesses
New York continues to do very well in finding just the right balance of strong goaltending, timely scoring and strong special teams play to help cover up for some lesser even strength control altogether.
In the month of January, the Rangers hold just a 43.58 xGF%, and their inability to control more of the play in a contest against the lowly Flyers on Saturday was concerning.
However, true to form, they managed to limit the complete breakdowns defensively, ultimately scoring just enough to sneak past a Flyers team that has been simply treacherous.
Only a handful of roster pieces are posting notably above-average play, and the support behind those top pieces such as Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and most importantly, Igor Shesterkin, continues to be below average altogether.
It’s not entirely surprising to see that the Rangers do hold the East’s worst goal differential out of the current playoff teams — 13 below Toronto. It seems realistic to think the team will level off results wise moving forward.
Meanwhile, Igor Shesterkin’s brilliance has been one of the main reasons New York has found so much success this season.
Shesterkin has posted a league-leading +20.7 goals saved above expected rating, with a .939 save % throughout 23 games played.
Maple Leafs vs. Rangers Pick
Surely the Rangers are doing a number of things well to help cover up for their altogether lesser even strength play, but with that said, I do not see them as one of the East’s top teams. I feel that they are going to regress results wise as this season rolls along.
This sets up as a good spot for that to occur, against a Leafs team that is truly just very good. The Leafs are a considerably deeper offensive unit.
The Leafs will be without both pieces of their regular second defensive pair, but as alluded to, the Holl/Muzzin unit has been the Leafs’ most notable flaw this season. It’s easy to argue that Sandin and Liljegren actually may compose a better second unit in their absence.
-160 appears to be a notably long price for a Leafs team holding a very close points percentage to the Rangers. But the price is warranted in my eyes. I think we will see Toronto able to carry far more of the play here at even strength and translate that into a win.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs Moneyline -160 (Play to -175)